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Amanda Ackermann Misfeldt, Ph.D., and Jeffrey Raum, Ph.D., were honored with Vanderbilt Scholars in Diabetes awards at last week’s Diabetes Day research symposium. (photo by Dana Johnson)

Diabetes Scholars honored for potential research promise

BY: MELISSA MARINO

11/21/2008 - Vanderbilt trainees who demonstrate potential as future leaders in diabetes research were honored with Vanderbilt Scholars in Diabetes awards at last week's “Diabetes Day” research symposium.

Amanda Ackermann Misfeldt, Ph.D., who recently completed her doctorate in the Department of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics, received the award in the graduate student category. Working with Maureen Gannon, Ph.D., she investigated the gene FoxM1 and its role in the formation of new insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas in response to obesity and in the regeneration of new beta cells after injury. These studies help reveal how diabetes might be caused and how it may be treated in the future.

Jeffrey Raum, Ph.D., a research fellow working with Roland Stein, Ph.D., in Molecular Physiology and Biophysics, received the award in the postdoctoral category. In his research, he has focused on identifying sequences and transcription factors important in the beta cell specific expression of MafA, a key activator of insulin and Pdx-1 transcription in the adult pancreas. Because MafA is associated with mature, functional beta cells, his work could be applied to help direct the differentiation of beta cells from human embryonic stem cells.

The awards were established by the Vanderbilt Diabetes Research and Training Center (DRTC), whose mission includes training the next generation of diabetes researchers.

The Vanderbilt DRTC is an interdisciplinary, interdepartmental center that supports investigators performing basic science research, clinical investigation, and translational research, and includes more than 90 investigators in 18 departments and four colleges at Vanderbilt and Meharry Medical School.

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